Adm. David E. Jeremiah, who died Monday, served 38 years in the Navy, including four as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. (Navy)
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David E. Jeremiah, a retired admiral whose four-year tenure as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff capped a 38-year Navy career, died Monday at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., according to multiple media reports. He was 79.
Jeremiah served in that post under Army Gens. Colin Powell and John Shalikashvili before retiring in 1994.
A graduate of the University of Oregon, Jeremiah earned his commission as a surface warfare officer in 1956, eventually serving on seven Pacific Fleet destroyers. He served as a tactical leader in several high-stakes missions in the Middle East.
As Cruiser-Destroyer Group 8 commander from 1984 to 1986, he directed air efforts to capture four members of the Palestinian Liberation Front aboard an Egyptian airliner, who had hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, in 1985.
In 1986, he directed three aircraft carriers, accompanied by numerous aircraft and other ships, to sink two Libyan warships and destroy an anti-aircraft missile site during an American show of strength again Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
He earned his fourth star in 1987, subsequently taking command of the Pacific Fleet.
On the floor of the House of Representatives in 1994, Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., gave an address in honor of Jeremiah’s retirement. At the time Jeremiah had held the title of the surface fleet’s “Old Salt” — the most senior officer with the earliest date of qualification — since 1991.
“As the ‘Keeper of the Seas,’ he is acknowledged to be a proven sailor whose years of experience at sea make him a professional and reliable shipmate in peace, and an exemplary leader in war,” Skelton said. “This truly captures the essence of Adm. Jeremiah’s capabilities and contributions to our country.”
The U.S. Naval Institute reported Jeremiah’s death in a remembrance posted Thursday.
According to a death notice published by The Washington Post, Jeremiah is survived by wife Connie Jo Jeremiah, daughters Krista Jeremiah Gautney and Jodi Jeremiah Oliver, and grandchildren Annie Kate and Carolina Oliver.
He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date, according to the notice.